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The Rise & Rise of Delegated Legislation – Do we need more Safeguards?

In the domain of legal theory, delegated legislation is perhaps the most far from being obviously true issue on account of its different ramifications. Indian democracy is said to lay on the acclaimed four columns, and these are the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, and the press. These pillars are enabled by the constitution not to meddle in the issues of others. According to the Constitution, the legislature has legislative powers, and the Executive can execute the laws. Essentially, the Judiciary can determine debate and to meet out equity. According to traditional theory, the function of the executive is to administer the law enacted by the legislature, and in an ideal State, legislative power must be exercised exclusively by the legislators who are directly responsible to the electorate. But, as a matter of fact, apart from “pure” administrative functions, the executive performs many legislative & judicial functions also. It has, therefore, been rightly said that the delegated legislation is so multitudinous that a statute book would only be incomplete but misleading unless it be read along with delegated legislation which amplifies & supplements the law of the land. 

Delegation of powers implies those powers, which are given by the higher authorities to the lower authorities to make specific laws, i.e., powers given by the assembly to the administration to enact laws to perform administrative functions. The law administer by the executive with the powers given by the legislature is called delegated legislation. Or on the other hand we can say that when an instrument of an administrative sort is made by an expert in exercise of force appointed or gave by the governing body is called subordinate legislation or delegated legislation. Delegated legislation, also referred to as secondary legislation, is legislation made by a person or body other than Parliament. Parliament, through an Act of Parliament, can permit another person or body to make legislation. An Act of Parliament creates the framework of a particular law and tends only to contain an outline of the purpose of the Act. By Parliament giving authority for legislation to be delegated it enables other persons or bodies to provide more detail to an Act of Parliament. Parliament thereby, through primary legislation (i.e., an Act of Parliament), permit others to make law and rules through delegated legislation. The legislation created by delegated legislation must be made in accordance with the purposes laid down in the Act. The function of delegated legislation is it allows the Government to amend a law without having to wait for a new Act of Parliament to be passed. Further, delegated legislation can be used to make technical changes to the law, such as altering sanctions under a given statute. Also, by way of an example, a Local Authority have power given to them under certain statutes to allow them to make delegated legislation and to make law which suits their area. Delegated legislation provides a very important role in the making of law as there is more delegated legislation enacted each year than there are Acts of Parliament. In addition, delegated legislation has the same legal standing as the Act of Parliament from which it was created. Doctrinal of permissible limits Doctrine of permissible limit basically talks about the powers of a legislature which can be delegated to the administrative authorities a legislation cannot delegate all its powers. The legislature has some limited powers which can be delegated. 

History of delegated legislation in India

The chronicled scenery of the delegation of power can be followed from the Charter Act of 1833 when the East India Company was recovering political effect in India. The Charter Act of 1833 vested the authoritative powers just in the possession of the Governor-General-in Council, which was an official body. He was enabled to make laws and rules for renouncing, rectifying or altering any laws or rules, which were for all individuals paying little heed to their ethnicity. In 1935 the Government of India Act, 1935 was passed which contained a genuine arrangement of designation. The report of the Committee of Ministers’ Powers was submitted and certified which totally settled the case for task of powers and arrangement of order that was seen as inevitable in India. However, our Constitution relied upon the separation of power; an absolute partition of powers was ridiculous from this time forward it kept up the blessedness of the fundamental in the state-of-the-art sense. The Indian Constitution doesn’t prevent the task from getting powers. On the other hand, there are a couple of plans where the authority had been surrendered with the authoritative powers. For example, the authoritative powers of the President under the Indian Constitution are unmistakable. The issue of the designation of enactment in India began under the British principle when the contention on the issue in the West was going full bore. In autonomous India, the contention of settling the issue of the appointment of authoritative power was at first sight to a contention between the English and American sort of arrangement. The Constitution of India contains four hundred Articles and it had not been amazed in case the Constitution producers incorporate some answer for it. Yet, why these arrangements were fused in the Constitution? This is on the grounds that the government officials in the Constituent Assembly watched out for increase lawful definitions. These issues were of minor significance on which legitimate definition was made in contrast with other more noteworthy, protected issues that were by-passed by the Assembly that were passed on to future accord or legal translation. On account of Queen v. Burah, nature and degree of Legislature power and the attainability of its appointment was considered by the Privy Council. The Privy Council, for this situation, held that Councils of Governor-General was preeminent Legislature and has adequate number of abilities and who are qualified for move specific powers to common agents. At the hour of passing of New Delhi Act of 1912, the Privy Council acknowledged the exchange of Legislature capacity to the Executive.

Delegated legislation under the Constitution of India

Although the idea of delegated legislation was not referenced explicitly in the Indian Constitution it tends to be perceived by deciphering Article 312 of the given Constitution. This Article gives right to the Rajya Sabha to open another branch of All India Service with a two-third majority vote. This implies that a few powers of enactment will be assigned to the new spotter of All India Service. There are many cases through which assigned enactment under the constitution of India can be perceived. 

In case of DS Garewal v. State of Punjab, where the constitutionality of All India Services Act, 1951 was raised. The appellant was appointed to the All-India Services and was posted at Punjab. He held the charge of Superintendent of Police in various districts but was reverted or return to the post of Assistant Superintendent of Police in August 1957 and was posted to Dharamsala in March in the year 1958. In the same month, he was informed that an action has been taken against him under Rule 5 of the All-India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1955. An enquiry committee was set up against him under the leadership of Shri K. L. Bhudiraja. He then immediately made an application under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution before the Punjab High Court challenging the constitutionality of the Act and legality of the enquiry against him. Six contentions were made by the appellant lawyer. K.N. Wanchu, Justice of the Supreme Court at that time, dealing with the power of delegated legislation under Article 312 of the Indian Constitution. As the case has been very serious the appellant can be removed or compulsorily dismissed from the post by the Central Government and therefore Central Government has instituted enquiry against him. There is nothing mentioned in Article 312 of the Indian Constitution that takes away the power of delegation.

In the case of Sikkim v. Surendra Sharma, after the incorporation of Sikkim into India and becoming the state of Union of India, the Directorate of Survey and Settlement of Government of Sikkim created and advertised for certain temporary posts. Like other people, the respondent has also applied for the post. They got selected and were appointed in different capacities. After the survey work got completed some of the employees got terminated from the job. In 1982, some of the employees, who were ‘not locals’, filed a writ petition in the High Court of Sikkim challenging the decision of the Government asking why it has fired the employees from the service on the ground that they were not locals. The judge held that the end of the workers exclusively on the ground that he isn’t neighbourhood is impermissible under Article 14 and 16 of the Indian Constitution. It was held that all guidelines and enactments made under the power which is conceded under sub-statement (k) of the Article 371F comprised subordinate enactment. This article was added to the Constitution through the 36th Constitutional Amendment.

Reasons for the Growth of Delegated Legislations

Many factors are responsible for the rapid growth of delegated legislation in today’s time. Because of the radical change in the governance of a country from ‘police state’ to the ‘welfare state’ the function and the need of delegated legislation have increased. These factors and reasons for growth of delegated legislation can be seen as follows:

 Pressure upon parliamentary time

As a result of the expanding horizons of State activity, the bulk of legislation is so great that it is not possible for the legislature to devote sufficient time to discuss all the matters in detail. Therefore, legislature formulates the general policy-skeleton-and empowers the executive to fill in the details- “thus giving flesh & blood to the skeleton so that it may live”-by issuing necessary rules, regulations, bye-laws, etc. The committee on Ministers’ Power has observed that if the parliament is not willing to delegate law making power to the subordinate, then he will be unable to pass the quality of rules and regulations that a person needs to live a happy life or legislation which a modern public requires.


Sometimes, the subject-matter on which legislation is required is so technical in nature that the legislator, being himself a common man, can’t be expected to appreciate & legislate the same, & the assistance of experts may be required. MPs may be the best politicians, but they are not experts to deal with highly technical matters which are required to be handled by the experts. Here the legislative power may be conferred on experts to deal with the technical problems, e.g., gas, atomic energy, drugs, electricity.


The practice of delegated legislation enables the executive to experiment. This method permits rapid utilisation of experience and implementation of necessary changes in application of the provisions in the light of such experience, e.g., in road traffic matters, an experiment may be conducted and in the light of its application necessary changes could be made.


Parliamentary amendment is very slow, and it requires a process to make any type of law but by the tool of delegated legislation it can be made expeditiously with the help of the executives, e.g., police regulation, bank rate, import and export, foreign exchange, etc. Also, Parliament cannot foresee the contingency while enacting a law so to make it foresee the workload is being given to the executives. So, it is necessary to give work to lower body to have that work in a smooth and better manner.

Complexity of modern administration

Modern administration used to take added responsibilities when it came to upraise the condition of the citizens such as looking after their employment, health, education, regulating trade, etc. Therefore, the complexity in modern administration and expansion of states’ function to the social sphere and economic have allowed the formation of a new form of legislation and to give wide powers to various authorities on various occasions. It is important that an administration should give an excess of power to activate socio-economic policies. In a country like Bangladesh where control over private trade, business or property may be required to be imposed, it is necessary that the administration should hand over the excess amount of power to implement such policy.

Importance of Delegated Legislation

In the Indian Constitution, the necessity of delegated legislation is emphasised. And here’s a list of them:

  • Delegated legislation is advantageous for Parliament’s decision-making because it is a less time-consuming approach that also minimises the Parliament’s burden. The most significant thing is that there are no such limitations when it comes to enacting legislation.
  • Rather of relying on Parliament, delegated legislation grants power to a designated person who has knowledge, is familiar with individual situations, and is responsible for the society to establish law.
  • Because Parliament’s decision-making process is time-consuming, it delegates authority to those who are best qualified to handle any emergency crisis that develops without relying on or interfering with it. Delegated legislation is the term for this practise.
  • Delegated legislation can be used to fill in for any situation, making it flexible and useful to produce a law that the Parliament would never anticipate while enacting new legislation.

Hence, we can conclude that delegated legislation is the best method for the Parliament to enact a law because it achieves a positive result by relying on this method, i.e., delegated legislation, in which the power of decision-making in any emergency situation is placed in the hands of the person responsible for it. In order to save time in the Parliament. And, thus far, this has been the most effective method of enacting legislation. This approach can also recognise and respond to changing societal requirements.


When it comes to using, enacting, or altering laws, the power of delegated legislation in any form lacks democracy because the majority of decisions are made by unelected individuals. In that situation, unelected persons abuse their power.

When compared to main legislation, there is less risk of Parliament interfering with delegated legislation. As a result, in the case of delegated legislation, there is a lower probability of Parliament inspecting it, increasing the chances of inconsistencies across laws.

Any law that is developed or any changes to laws that are made using the technique of delegated legislation are not made public. As a result, there is an issue since the newly established laws or modifications are not publicised.

The majority of maximal law is updated through the process of delegated legislation, according to observations and surveys.


As the Supreme Court has stated, delegated legislation is a “necessary evil” and an unavoidable infringement of the idea of separation of powers, which states that “law-making” is solely the province of the legislature. The Supreme Court has also underlined the inherent risk in the delegation process, in which an overburdened legislature may unnecessarily exceed the permissible limits of delegation and fail to adequately express the guiding principles under which delegated legislations must work.

If in India the control of Parliament over the delegated legislation has to be made a living continuity, then it is important that the job of the advisory groups of the Parliament must be fortified and a different law like the Statutory Instruments Act, accommodating uniform standards of laying and production, must be passed. The board of trustees might be enhanced by a specific authority body to make the watchfulness of assigned enactment progressively successful. Other than the different measures mentioned above, it should be taken to reinforce the control of Parliament over designated enactment. The tenets and standards created by the Legal Executive should be connected by the necessities of the advanced age. Although there are no express arrangements in the Constitution of India to allow the appointment of authoritative power, the legal pattern saw in regard of assigned enactment is as per the aim of establishing fathers our Constitution whose principal concern was the flexibility of the Constitution with changing needs of the time. If you want to make certain that the power of delegated law in the arms of the government is not misuse, it is vital to adopt powerful modes of control as applicable in the USA which India has now not integrated yet. 


By Arryan Mohanty